I’ve been using Linux on and off for about 4 years now (haven’t touched windows in a bit over 2). I used RedHat and Fedora for a while until I found the courage to try Debian. I instantly fell in love with apt and the documentation online even though it seemed I had older packages and was forced to compile much more often then I would of liked.
My nature pushed me towards helping this wonderful project anyway I could, to give “something back”.
I’ll admit I didn’t put too much effort into it, but I couldn’t find a way to help short of what I was pointed to several times in IRC as “become a DD” (Debian Developer). So I gave up.
With Ubuntu everything was different. It was pretty clear from the start where I could help, and even very simple things like having Launchpad, somewhere I could “register” and *be* a part of something kept me going.
When I landed in IRC (#ubuntu-devel initially) I was kindly pointed to other channels where people could answer my questions better. I believe that in less then a week I was already helping out put some PHP code together.
The Ubuntu Code of Conduct to me plays a crucial part in the general spirit of the community, there are very clear rules on how to behave, answer and resolve disputes.
To me, a very non-obvious problem that comes up frequently is users misbehaving simply because of the language barrier. They don’t speak english very well and ask questions in a very impolite way, often paste millions on lines in IRC and disrupt the channels harmony. Most of the times if you just kindly walk them through the rules, they adapt quickly and become very active members.
I’ve come across some very interesting videos on building communities, one by Jono himself, and another more aggressive one (but not less true in my opinion) by the Subversion founders.
I think these are particularly useful to all Ubuntu LoCo leaders, they’re very enlightening: